Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, continuing his national speaking tour, took on foreign policy Tuesday at the Jesse Helms Center in North Carolina. Rubio took a hawkish position, citing Ronald Reagan's approach to "placing morality at the center of our dealings with other nations."
"I don't believe that America has the power or means to solve every issue in the world," Rubio said, but added that there are "some critically important issues" that require the United States' attention.
Other counties look to the United States for leadership in foreign policy, he said.
"They look for support to the greatest democracy in the world," he said. "And America must answer their call."
"We may not always agree with our fellow democracies, but seldom -- if ever -- do we fight them," he said. "States that do not respect the rights of their citizens seldom respect the rights of their neighbors...If America turns inward and ignores the monsters abroad, they're likely to turn here."
Rubio praised President Barack Obama for authorizing the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and said he understood the president's hesitation before withdrawing the U.S.'s support from Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. But elsewhere in the Middle East, particularly Iran, Rubio criticized Obama for being "slow and hesitant."
"It's hard to see why we would hesitate in the case of Iran, Syria or Libya," Rubio said. "It's easy to imagine that their successors would be much more amendable to our interests."
He also called out Obama for not engaging more closely with Latin America and failing to pass a free trade agreement with one of the U.S.'s closest allies in the region, Colombia.
"Individuals like Hugo Chavez who have no business running anything in the first place, much less a country," he said.
He then took questions from students at the Jesse Helms Center. They asked him about Cuba. Rubio said the Obama position on lifting some travel sanctions against the island was not ill-intentioned but "naive."
He criticized the modern-day United Nations, saying it was a Cold War relic: "In the world as it is structered today, there is still no substitute for American leadership," Rubio said.
And he sidestepped a question about immigration, saying only that fostering prosperity in other parts of the world would help lessen the flow of immigration to the U.S.
-- Patricia Mazzei and Erika Bolstad